Monday, September 19, 2011

After Reaching the Beach

When I got out of bed this morning and tried to walk down the stairs to the kitchen to get some coffee started, it was clear that something was dreadfully wrong with my calves. I had our embarrassingly small dog cradled in one arm and my laptop in the other and that first step nearly sent me all the way down. I hadn’t quite run a marathon the day before, but I had run 19 miles in a long distance relay called Reach the Beach. Two of the three legs I ran had some big hills and I ran in my Vibram five-finger running shoes, so my calves were feeling like someone was sticking ice picks into them with each step.

I made it to the kitchen, dog and computer intact, and started making the coffee with an enormous smile on my face. This year was my 4th Reach the Beach and every year it proves itself to be the best-organized race there is. There were 36 legs covering 192 miles from Cannon Mountain in northern New Hampshire to Hampton Beach in the southeast corner of the state. Somehow, over 400 teams with anywhere from 6 to 12 runners each cover the entire distance day and night with no major mess-ups, injuries, or meltdowns. The volunteers who staff the many transition areas are unfailingly pleasant and helpful—some are even downright joyful. I am not exaggerating when I say that Reach the Beach restores my faith in humanity each year.

The team I run with is called The Rosie Ruiz Fan Club and its membership varies year to year. This year we had 6 newcomers and 6 repeat offenders. Altogether, we covered the miles in 25 hours, 26 minutes, and 56 seconds for a pace of 7:57 per mile. More importantly, everyone felt great about the run and, in the warm glow of the post-race celebration, we all agreed it had been an amazing experience.

I just wanted to say thank you to the organizers, volunteers, and all the other runners who make this race better than Christmas for me each year.

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